Ethiopia, China ground Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after crash leaves 157 dead

by - 4 min read

Ethiopia, China ground Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after crash leaves 157 dead

by admin - 4 min read

by admin

Ethiopian Airlines has grounded all of its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft following a crash Sunday that left 157 people dead, including 18 Canadians

Although it wasn’t yet known what caused the crash of the new plane in clear weather outside Addis Ababa, the airline decided to ground its remaining four 737 Max 8s until further notice, spokesperson Asrat Begashaw said. Ethiopian Airlines was using five of the planes and was awaiting delivery of 25 more.

Some others around the world were deciding to do the same. China’s civilian aviation authority ordered all Chinese airlines to temporarily ground their Max 8s. China Southern Airlines is one of Boeing’s biggest customers for the aircraft. Indonesia grounded 11 of the aircraft for inspections, said Polana B. Pramesti, director general of Air Transportation. Caribbean carrier Cayman Airways also said it was temporarily grounding the two it operates.

Transport Canada said it’s not grounding any planes for now, but will take “all the necessary actions to ensure the safety of our skies.”

“The process of certification of the Boeing 737 Max [8] aircraft was led by American authorities,” a spokesperson for Transport Minister Marc Garneau said. “The United States National Transportation Safety Board is gathering all the available information and a team was sent on site. Any decision taken will be based on science and in order to maintain the highest levels of safety.”

A relative leaves the information centre at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi following Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines plane crash. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

After sunrise, Red Cross workers slowly picked through the widely scattered debris near the blackened crash crater, looking for the remains of 157 lives. A shredded book and business cards in multiple languages could be seen, as heavy machinery dug for larger pieces of the plane.

Shares of Chicago-based Boeing slid almost 10 per cent in early trading on Monday. The share move, if maintained through normal trading hours, would be the biggest fall in Boeing’s stock in nearly two decades, halting a surge that has seen it triple in value in just over three years to a record high of $446 US last week.

Boeing said on Monday the investigation is in its early stages and there was no need to issue new guidance to operators of its 737 Max 8 aircraft based on the information it has so far.

Distress call

Asrat said forensic experts from Israel had arrived in Ethiopia to help with the investigation. Ethiopian authorities lead the investigation into the crash, assisted by the U.S., Kenya and others.

“These kinds of things take time,” Kenya’s Transport Minister James Macharia told reporters Monday morning.

Ethiopian Airlines said Monday that investigators have recovered the plane’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder. 

People from 35 countries died in the crash six minutes after the plane took off from Ethiopia’s capital en route to Nairobi. Ethiopian Airlines said the senior pilot issued a distress call and was told to return but all contact was lost shortly afterward. The plane plowed into the ground at Hejere near Bishoftu.

Watch: People gather near ‚ÄčEthiopia plane crash site

People gather at the scene of the crash near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, where a search and rescue operation is underway. 0:58

Kenya lost 32 people, more than any country. Relatives of 25 of the victims had been contacted, Macharia said, and taking care of their welfare was of utmost importance.

18 Canadians killed

“Some of them, as you know, they are very distressed,” he said. “They are in shock like we are. They are grieving.”

Canada, Ethiopia, the U.S., China, Italy, France, Britain, Egypt, Germany, India and Slovakia all lost four or more citizens.

Among the 18 Canadians killed were a Carleton University professor and a mother-daughter pair from Edmonton.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent condolences via Twitter to the families of those lost in the crash, as did Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

The government also provided a phone number for Canadians in Ethiopia to call for consular assistance.

Shocked leaders of the United Nations, the UN refugee agency and the World Food Programme announced that colleagues had been on the plane. The UN migration agency estimated that 19 UN-affiliated employees were killed.

Both Addis Ababa and Nairobi are major hubs for humanitarian workers, and many people were on their way to a large UN environmental conference set to begin Monday in Nairobi. 

Ethiopia’s parliament declared Monday a day of mourning, while the summit in Nairobi opened with a moment of silence as some wept for the UN members killed in one of the deadliest aviation accidents in the organization’s history. The UN flag at the event flew at half-mast.

Crash ended 2 years of relative calm

The crash was strikingly similar to that of a Lion Air jet of the same Boeing model in Indonesian seas in October, killing 189 people. The crash was likely to renew questions about the 737 Max 8, the newest version of Boeing’s popular single-aisle airliner, which was first introduced in 1967 and has become the world’s most common passenger jet.

Safety experts cautioned against drawing too many comparisons between the two crashes until more is known about Sunday’s disaster.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 entered commercial use in 2017 and can carry up to 210 passengers. (Boeing)

The Ethiopian plane was new, delivered to the airline in November. The jet’s last maintenance was on Feb. 4, and it had flown just 1,200 hours.

The crash shattered more than two years of relative calm in African skies, where travel had long been chaotic. It also was a serious blow to state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, which has expanded to become the continent’s largest and best-managed carrier and turned Addis Ababa into the gateway to Africa.

This story originally appeared on CBC